“I don’t fancy being Batal food,” Perceval agreed. “Tipper, they aren’t mad about the fireballs. They want to pool resources. We should say yes.”
Tipper crossed his arms and peered at the two new arrivals, picking them apart by sight. He could already tell that the pretty girl was going to be trouble. The way she held her shoulders back and how she clearly pronounced her words in clean and clear speech, he knew that she’d want to be the decision maker. He place would be endangered, and he wouldn’t have any of that. He couldn’t risk his prophecy. Still, the prospects of a Batal gulping down his charges wasn’t pleasant either. Tipper swallowed his pride just enough to ask, “Can’t have you joining us without telling us who you are.”
The pretty girl nodded at the centaur as if they were silently communicating. She turned and performed one of the worst curtsies Tipper ever saw.
“My name is Digitalis from Pottestown in the west.”
“What a second!” Gabbie covered her ailing mouth. “What just a second! You’re a Lived Being!”
“Gabbie,” Perceval hissed.
“It’s alright. Yes, little miss. I sure am a Lived Being.”
“Because your ears are pointed! Tipper kept thinking that we were Lived Beings, and we’re not,” said explained.
“You surely are not Lived Beings. I would know. Lived with them all my life.” Digitalis smiled.
“Can I ask something?” Said Lila.
“Tipper is a Kitsune and he can use fire. Other people have specific magic. What…what do Lived Beings do?”
“Get ready for this, kids. Come on, slide in a little closer.” Digitalis waved the children into a tight circle. She ignored Tipper and Perceval’s deadpan expressions aimed at each other. “Lived Beings has a very special, very magical power that only they can do.”
“It’s got to be lightning,” Lila whispered to Ginger.
“Lived Beings…live for a long time.” Digitalis stood straight up, still smirking. “That’s it.”
“WHAT?!?” The children bellowed. They felt cheated.
“Yup. That’s all we do. I’m 127-years-old myself and I’m still not considered an adult. We Lived Beings live for so long that we have to make up holidays for every day of the year just so we won’t get bored.”
“When I met her, it was Loose Tea Leaf Day,” the centaur said. The perplexed children swung their heads up to meet kind, brown eyes. “Oh, hello.” The centaur pawed at the ground with one front hoof. “My name is—“
“Here it comes,” Digitalis groaned. She covered her face.
“My name is Glue Pot.”
“Glue Pot? What kind of mother names her kid something like that?” Tipper asked.
“Well, my full name is Pot of Glue, so it could be worse. We like to name ourselves after items that are useful to us. I’m glad I wasn’t named handkerchief or something of the sort.”
“I don’t think I can handle anymore of this.” Ginger put her head on Gabbie’s shoulder. “Talking foxes, a centaur named after glue, Alastair’s death burps. All I wanted to do was play my game. That’s all I wanted.”
“There, there.” Gabbie patted her twin sister’s head.
“So I take it that you’ll be having us? Least ‘til we get out of this bloody forest?” Digitalis pulled her blue jacket tighter around her shoulders.
“I don’t think the Batal gives us a choice. Which way were you hoping to go?” Tipper said.
“We’re traveling north. Believe or not, we have business with the Queen.”